You can only vote at elections if you are registered to vote. Please visit the register to vote page if you need to register.
There are various ways you can vote:
- In person at the polling station
- By post - Changes to the postal vote application will come in to effect on 31October 2023 in line with the new Election Act legislation. After this date, an application without the request to supply your national insurance number cannot be accepted.
- By proxy (someone you trust voting on your behalf) - Changes to the proxy vote application will come in to effect on 31 October 2023 in line with the new Election Act legislation. After this date, an application without the request to supply your national insurance number cannot be accepted.
- You cannot vote online in any elections
Voting in Person
You can only vote at elections if you are registered to vote. Please visit the register to vote page if you need to register
Your Polling Station
Your polling station is allocated to you based on your address on the electoral register.
Before you go to vote, check where your polling station is. It might not be the closest one to where to you live, and it might have changed since the last time you voted. You have to go to your allocated polling station, and you can't go to a different one close to where you work, for example.
Your polling station will be on your poll card, which you'll receive through the post a few weeks before polling day.
About two weeks before an election, you can enter your postcode here to find out where your polling station is.
Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on polling day.
They can get busy, particularly towards the end of the day. If there's a queue at your polling station, you'll still be able to vote as long as you joined the queue before 10pm.
You might see people waiting outside the polling station who ask you for the number on your poll card.
These people are called 'tellers', and are volunteering on behalf of the candidates. They use the information people give them to check who has voted, and remind people who haven't to do so.
They are allowed to be there and to ask for the information, but you don't have to give them any information if you don't want to.
If you are concerned about the conduct of a teller, speak to a member of staff at the polling station.
- Check where your polling station is, and go to vote between 7am and 10pm on polling day.
- When you arrive at your polling station, a staff member will ask for your name and check that you are on the electoral register.
- From 4 May 2023, you will need to show photo ID to vote. You will be asked to show your ID to make sure that it looks like you. A private area will be available should you choose to have your photo ID viewed in private. This might be a separate room, or an area separated by a privacy screen, depending on the polling station.
- The staff member will cross your name off the register and give you a ballot paper listing the candidates you can vote for. You might be given more than one ballot paper if there is more than one election taking place in your local area on the same day.
- Take your ballot paper (or papers) to a polling booth, so that you can cast your vote in secret.
- Read the instructions on the ballot paper carefully. Make sure you fill in each ballot paper correctly.
- Complete your ballot paper using the pencil provided in the polling booth. You can also use your own pen if you want to. Don't write anything else on the paper, or your vote may not be counted.
- If you make a mistake, don't put your ballot paper in the ballot box. Ask the polling station staff for a replacement ballot paper, and fill it in again.
- Once you're done, fold your completed ballot paper and put it in the ballot box.
Asking for Help
If you're not sure what to do, or need any help, just ask the staff at the polling station – they will be happy to assist you to cast your vote.
There are a number of things at the polling station to help you cast your vote, including a large print sample ballot paper, and a tactile voting device to help if you have a visual impairment. There is additional lighting in booths, magnifiers and writing aids if you need them.
If you want to, you can take your phone into the polling booth to use magnifier or text-to-speech apps, or the phone torch to improve lighting. When using your phone, don’t take any photos inside the polling station.
You can ask polling station staff for help, or you can bring someone with you who is over the age of 18 to help you cast your vote. They don’t need to be eligible to vote in that election.
Taking photos inside the polling station isn't allowed as it might risk the secrecy of the ballot.
You are more than welcome to take photos outside the polling station, and share them on social media to encourage your friends and family to vote.
You can only vote at elections if you are registered to vote. Please visit the register to vote page if you need to register. You will be asked if you wish to vote by post whilst doing this.
You must apply for a postal vote by 5pm, 11 working days before the poll.
When you will receive your ballot paper
After the deadline to become a candidate has passed (approximately three weeks before polling day), ballot papers are produced and printed. Yours will then be sent to you, in your postal voting pack.
Once you receive your postal voting pack, make sure to keep it somewhere safe. Don't let anyone else handle it, and avoid leaving it where someone else could pick it up.
Vote by post
When you receive your postal voting pack, check the contents carefully. Inside your postal voting pack, there should be:
- instructions about how to cast your vote and how to return the postal vote pack
- a postal vote statement
- two envelopes
- the ballot paper or papers for the elections taking place
Complete the postal vote statement carefully following the instructions.
Read the instructions on the ballot papers carefully.
Complete your ballot paper or papers. Make sure you do it alone and in secret. Don't write anything else on the paper, or your vote may not be counted.
Put your ballot paper or papers in the smaller envelope.
Put your postal vote statement and the envelope containing your ballot paper(s) in the bigger envelope, and seal it all up. Make sure the return address is clear.
Put your postal vote somewhere safe until you're ready to post it.
Returning your postal vote
As soon as you're ready to return your postal vote, take it to the post box yourself.
If you can't post it yourself, you can either ask someone you know and trust to post it for you, or you can contact the elections team at your local council to ask if they can collect it from you.
Avoid asking a candidate or party worker to post it for you. This is against their code of conduct.
Your postal vote needs to be with the elections team at the council offices by 10pm on polling day to be counted.
If you can't post your postal vote pack in time, you can take it your polling station or to the council offices on polling day.
How to cancel your postal vote
If you want to cancel your postal vote then you should contact your local council to request this. You must do so before 5pm, 11 working days before the election you will be voting in.
If you have already returned your completed postal vote, then you will not be able to cancel it for that election.
You can only vote at elections if you are registered to vote. Please visit the register to vote page if you need to register. You will be asked if you wish to vote by proxy whilst doing this.
You must apply for a proxy vote by 5pm, 6 working days before the election.
Ask someone you trust to be your proxy
If you're voting by proxy, you need to ask someone you trust to cast your vote on your behalf.
You'll need to tell your proxy who you would like to vote for.
Someone can be your proxy if they are:
- 18 or over
- registered to vote
- able to get to your polling station on polling day
- eligible to vote in the election
Your proxy does not have to be related to you.
At the same election, someone can only be a proxy for their close relatives, plus two other people.
What your appointed proxy needs to do on polling day
The person you have appointed as your proxy will need to go to your polling station to cast your vote.
They will receive a proxy poll card telling them where and when to cast your vote for you.
Your proxy will need to show their own photo ID when voting in the polling station on your behalf.
If they don't receive or misplace their proxy poll card, they should check with us and we will be able to tell them where to go and vote.
They can also enter your postcode to find out where your polling station is.
Your polling station information will be available here approximately two weeks before polling day. Your polling station will also be on your poll card.
You can still vote in person if you have a proxy vote, but only if you do so before your proxy has voted for you.
Postal proxy vote
If your trusted person can't get to the polling station, they can apply to vote for you by post. This is called a postal proxy vote.
The deadline to apply for a postal proxy vote is 5pm, 11 working days before the poll.
Your trusted person will need to contact the electoral services team at your local council for more details and to request a further application form.
If your proxy is voting in an election that requires photo ID, and their form of accepted photo ID has been lost, stolen, destroyed or damaged then they may be able to apply for an emergency proxy.